The Many Faces Of Mark One
One of the most impressive aspects of the Mark One module in XLN Audio's Addictive Keys is the sheer range of tones it's capable of. While a quick surf through the presets can give you a glimpse of this, it's only when you poke around within the Edit Page for yourself that you get real sense of the breadth of tone on offer here.
At the heart of the instrument's flexible nature is the range of line and mic signals you can blend, which provide a massive variety of sounds even before you start applying any processing in the Channel Strip. You can go from a super-close presentation based just on the Line signal, all the way to a 'diffuse droplets' patch focusing on the two ambient mic pairs instead, all without a speck of effects work. My favourite signals here are the soft stereo spread of the ‘Dim D’ signal (presumably modeled on the classic Roland Dimension-D chorus), never quite crossing the line into pure chorusing, and the warm envelopment of the PZM floor mics, so different in style to a simple reverb effect.
But the real star of the show for me is the modulation effects: the Chorus with its beautifully musical Octave Mode and variable stereo width; the Phaser with its stepped (and tempo-syncable) LFO shapes and the gossamer whistle of its higher resonance settings. And the Tremolo, which will just as happily deliver auto-panning and auto-wah if the fancy takes you. But what really expands the options is that each line/mic signal has its own Channel Strip, so you can pile up to eight independent modulation effects on a single instrument!
But there's more, because the Sample Playback settings offer other modulation options as well. The Pitch tab gives you a Vibrato facility with variable Rate and Depth, for instance, while the Filter and Volume tabs' multi-stage envelopes can easily trespass into analogue synth territory, especially if you turn up the filter resonance and switch off the Release Samples. And if you open up the Addictive Keys Session Settings, and you take this concept even further by assigning several modulation-effect parameters to be controlled from, say, your mod-wheel in real time, or adjust the whole instrument's pitch-bend range to allow insane two-octave pitch divebombs.
It may be a vintage instrument, but that doesn't mean it can't sound fresh!
Words: Mike Senior